As part of the Australia Council’s commitment to emerging artists through the JUMP National Mentoring project, Next Wave conducted a mid-year catch up on 17 July 2013 with Brisbane and Adelaide-based artists at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts. Ausdance National President, Brian Lucas and I chatted about his experience of mentoring and being mentored and mentee Jianna Georgiou shares her experience so far.
Eight artists including Jianna Georgiou, Liam Flenady & Alex Raineri (Kupka’s Piano), Rachael Parsons (VegasSpray) Matt Shilcock, Tom Wearne (aka Sleepy Tea), Nick Paine (Dead Puppet Society), Harriet Gillies (zin) and staff from both the Australia Council (Jane Eastwood & David Ryding) and Next Wave (Daniel Santangeli & Serena Bentley) were part of this national mentoring event. Brian Lucas who is a Brisbane-based independent artist and the President of Ausdance National contributed to the session as provocateur.
Lucas has host of mentoring credentials having been involved in Youth Arts Queensland’s Young Artists Mentoring Program (YAMP), which was a model that later influenced the Australia Council’s SPARK mentoring program. SPARK was then replaced by the current model more commonly known as JUMP. He has also been involved in QL2’s Soft Landing project and several of Arts Queensland’s Peer Mentoring projects. He says,
Mentors are generous because they want to share their experience.
His mentors have been a combination of people which include fellow artists, good friends and family, and a couple of key mentors for him have been Don Asker (he was a huge influence) and Zane Trow who was the first Artistic Director at the Brisbane Powerhouse. With Sydney-based artist Nikki Heywood and another Brisbane artist Margi Brown Ash, he was also involved in an informal project through Metro Arts for about 6 months.
When asked about what he had gained through his experience of mentoring, he said,
Informal and formal mentoring is an important part of my practice, it’s about me giving back to the community and maintaining a currency and a connection with the younger artists. Mentoring and being mentored is part of recognizing that when you work independently you need to build that support structure so it’s a personal and artistic thing as well.
In his provocation to the JUMP mentees, he discussed three binaries which are about finding a libran balance in your practice.
1. deadlines and openness – working within deadlines but trying to forget the exist
2. boredom and engagement – recognising if you are bored with what you’re doing and why you were engaged in it in the first place
3. freedom and discipline – be gentle to yourself and make it ok to leave it behind and be disciplined so you get back into it.
I don’t think I would’ve lasted a long as I have without being mentored and without being a mentor, because it’s about the wellbeing of your practice and your responsibility to the world and I wouldn’t have been around for as long as I have been. It’s about giving back and when you do that good things happen, but when people know that you’re prepared to give, they give back to you. If you open yourself to the universe the universe comes back in. Brian Lucas
Below are some of the questions that were asked of the mentees for the mid-year catch up. Jianna Georgiou, who is a dancer / emerging choreographer with Down syndrome, prepared her responses in advance. They have not been edited for this article.
What has been a highlight of your mentorship or JUMP Project?
Answer: my Highlight was the jump Project is when I started in Melboune and my mentor is lisa heaven and she come from Adalade and me lisa and Philip then we went to jump project its about when you have an mentor it helps you to become more perfessional
What has been the biggest lesson so far? (What have you learnt the most?)
Answer: I would say the challenge cause sometimes it gets confussed when someone says a different Qustion you don’t know what to say that’s the biggerst Lesson for me
What about your mentor has surprised you?
Answer: well every morning when I go to Ac arts I see lisa everwhere and that’s when she gets surprised evan peter
What has been a challenge of your mentorship?
Answer: I would say when lisa gives me Directions how to point my toes during the tecqunicice and she shows me the foot turns in 1
What are you looking forward to? (this was a hard question for Jianna to answer)
Answer: cant wait to see you I look forward to meet you its gonna be fun
How do you plan to maintain momentum between now and the end of the year? Jianna didn’t understand the question so I reworded it to… What will you continue to do to make the most of your mentorship?
Answer: I need lots of energy to do more workshops so I can get more fit and lose wright so when I do that by end of year I will look after myself and thank you for the qustions so next time I will folow your Qustions love you all
Photo: Tim Standing / Daylight Breaks